Well it's Monday, and I spent the entire Sunday afternoon, and today steaming over the atrocity that was Sunday's game. There are just some things that I have to say, in some form of outlet so here I go.
Let me first start off pessimistically by saying that yesterday's game was one of the hottest that I've ever attended, or at least it felt like it. It could have just been the fact that the Panthers mediocrity made me think more about how hot I was, but with the sun beaming down on my back for three hours, I was in a miserable state of affairs. Covered in sweat for the majority of the game, I pondered some things. How can the same things continue to happen to this team? Have John Fox, Hurney, and Richardson become so egotistical, that they are incapable of admitting that what they have put together this year simply isn't working? My thoughts made me angrier, and brought me no form of relief. By the end of the third quarter, my anger had reached critical mass, as I joined the masses in violently and passionately booing Matt Moore and the rest of the offense upon their jog onto the field.
I was excited by Clausen's entrance. I waved my "Growl Towel" above my head, feeling hope for the first time.. really all season. It was though, as I expected, too late to save the game. Clausen moved the offense well, completed just as many passes in one series, as Moore did the whole game. Down at the goal line with 4th down, the run went off tackle. In a 4th and maybe a yard situation, would common sense not dictate that the run should go right up the gut? Apparently not..
Thankfully the Panthers didn't throw too many curveballs our way. In fact, the vanilla playcalling that we have seen all season and preseason continued. From the seats of BoA stadium, I was able to accurately predict every play call before it happened, and if I can do that, then WE KNOW Raheem Morris and every other NFL coach can do that as well.
As I sulked in my seat, sweating through my white Steve Smith jersey, I watched some guy in a Carnell Williams jersey get up and celebrate. How it must feel I thought. How it must feel to be able to feel confidence.. even if both of your wins came against lower tier NFL teams.
Fortunately for fans, the Panthers and Bank of America were gracious enough to hand out "banners" upon admission to Sunday's game. "Banners!", the stadium staff at the entrance yelled as they handed them out to all that passed. Banner I thought? Interesting give-a-way.. Thanks Bank of America, thanks Panthers, for providing me free toilet paper upon my entrance to the game. The stupid scroll like banner ended up torn to shreds, mutilated, and tossed into the row in front of me upon conclusion of the game. Why not give away something that WON'T end up in trashcans next time? Or is Jerry Richardson trying to cut costs there too?
If you're thinking, "Is this guy finished?" The answer is no. The weights that are being released off of my chest at this point in time, are providing me amazing amounts of relief. Of course, after the game I had something to look forward to. Hearing the Panther Post game show on 1110 AM! I must say, listening to Ethan Horton and Mick Mickson, or whoever still is on the show, babble on about how the team has things to work on comes second on my list of favorite things to hear after a loss. My favorite of course is listening to John Fox, in typical fashion of sounding like he spent all night performing taxing karaoke at a local bar, tells me, "We obviously have somethings to work on. There are a lot of great teams that will be 0-2 after today. We were 0-2 at the start of last season too."
I let those comments sink in for a few long minutes. Rational? I asked myself, and concluded, absolutely not. Yes, coach Fox, yes, we do have some things to work on. By some things, I mean essentially everything. Are there great teams that are 0-2? If you are considering greatness from the previous season, then perhaps. The Cowboys were a good team last year, but got beat by Washington and Chicago. The Vikings were "great" last year, but have offensive numbers even lower than ours this year. Finally, yes Coach Fox, we were 0-2 at the beginning of last season, and look how that turned out. We missed the playoffs again, and finished 8-8. So average is acceptable now? I don't care what they say, listening to Coach Raspy regurgitate the same excuses week after week is getting old. It's time someone else comes in, his presence has become luke warm, in that no one is shocked anymore by anything he says.
How about the wide receiver core? Smith played well again. Scored another touchdown and looked motivated for most of the game. How about Dwayne Jarret? DNP. Armanti? DNP. LaFell? Nope. Gettis? I don't feel compelled to look, but I know he didn't make more than a couple of catches in the game. Before the game when asked about the receiving situation, good ol' Fox said, ".. we are still looking for the guy." When talking about the second receiver. Are we Fox? Still? Here in week 2 of the regular season? That's not encouraging. Management certainly scored with the offseason moves at WR. For a team whose "top need" was wide receiver, the Panthers lacked motivation. Youth movement is one thing, drafting a receiver with a reputation for dropped passes at LSU, and a division 1AA quarterback to play beside Smith is simply not impressive. Dwayne Jarrett has continued to prove me right. From the moment they drafted him, I deemed him to be a bust. And week in and week out, Jarrett is either inactive, or doing nothing but catching passes late in the game underneath prevent defense.
But our defense played well in the preseason, surely they held Tampa down effectively... right? Although the Panthers outgained the Buccs by 5 yards, Freeman scrambled all over the place, and the pass rush couldn't bring him down in the backfield, repeatedly missing tackles and chances for sacks. I really don't care how big and fast he is. You're a professional athlete who makes a good deal of money in bringing down quarterbacks. The secondary was unimpressive again. I suppose Dan Connor played a good game... but that's all my optimism for now.
As far as the choice between Clausen and Moore, I honestly don't think it matters very much. Neither of them give you a very good chance to win, but for the sake of the future of the franchise, I think Clausen is the most logical choice for the rest of the year. With the cast of characters on offense, this is not a playoff contending team. Why not run Clausen through the paces for the remainder of the year. Allow him to face the defenses of Atlanta, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. There is a distinct difference between being optimistic and being blind. Would I love for the Panthers to run the table and make a superbowl run? Of course, as much as anyone. But being as big of a fan as I am, I can see that this simply isn't likely to happen.
Getting upset with your team doesn't make you a bandwagon fan, a fairweather fan or any other similar adjective. I will stand by this team until my dying day, but the chief reason that BoA stadium isn't filled to capacity with crazy Panther maniacs, is that in trying times, passion for the game and team disappears. So here's my passion, this is a bad football team, that needs changes in key areas. As a PSL owner, it's just too sickening watching this team lay eggs at every home game. I've been through much worse, but when you pump money into a team in jersey sales, PSL's, and memorabilia, sometimes you just have to speak your mind. A major wakeup is needed, perhaps Sunday marks the beginning of the "Clausen era" or perhaps not. Either way, I'll be there again, and to be honest, I would rather not make the drive home livid, as I did Sunday. If you're going to the game on Sunday, try to have fun, and remember... we're all day to day.. right?